MILLINOCKET, MAINE — A wedding in Maine is linked to 176 Covid-19 cases and the deaths of seven people who didn’t attend the celebration, demonstrating just how easily and quickly the virus can spread at social gatherings, public health experts say.
As officials continue to push preventive measures, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing to keep infection rates low, they also have been vocal in warning against large gatherings.
But Americans have continued to congregate, leading to outbreaks tied to a number of events, from Memorial Day and Fourth of July celebrations to a massive motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.
The wedding held in Millinocket on August 7 had about 65 guests, in violation of the state’s 50-person cap for indoor events, Maine CDC said.
The event is linked to outbreaks that have unfolded at a nursing home and a jail, both more than 100 miles away from the wedding venue, and among people who had only secondary or tertiary contact with an attendee.
Residents at Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center accounted for 39 cases tied to the wedding and six of the seven deaths thus far, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah said.
“The virus favors gatherings,” Shah added. “It does not distinguish between happy events like a wedding celebration, or sad farewells, like a funeral.”
Despite such somber warnings, about 1,500 people descended on a New Jersey boardwalk house featured in MTV’s “Jersey Shore” Monday night, ending in eight arrests, according to Seaside Heights police.
The event was organized by a group of YouTube pranksters, according to Seaside Heights Police Detective Steve Korman, and officials say they are now worried about how they will track possible infections among more than a thousand people.